Tank Girl 1995
It’s really hard to know where to start with this movie. I was originally going to do a month of female superhero movies back during the first year of this site, that is until I realized that there’s only like 5 of them, I had already reviewed 2, and they are all horrible movies except for this one. Kinda. This is also much more of a sci-fi movie than a superhero movie, except for the fact that it’s impossible not to realize that this was based on a comic book as there are comic book images and animation thrown at you at almost every scene change. The plot of this movie is all over the place and so is the tone, there’s even a musical sequence in the middle of the movie that comes out of nowhere. Really the only thing that holds this entire movie is the performance of Lori Petty as Rebecca, the Tank Girl herself, which was enough for me and my wife to enjoy this movie, but only just.
Tank Girl takes place some random time in the future after a comet hits the Earth and somehow gets rid of all the surface water considering it hasn’t rained in nine years. 95% of the planet is controlled by the evil corporation Water and Power led by Malcolm McDowell. Rebecca is on the one sliver of land that’s not controlled by Water and Power along with a small group of rebels. And that’s rebels in the punk rock sense of the word in that they dress very randomly, smoke, drink, and party rather than actually form a resistance towards W&P. So of course, it doesn’t take too long before W&P comes in and kills everyone. Except for Rebecca, because of reasons. And Malcolm McDowell decides to break her and force her into working for W&P because of reasons.
The plot for this movie is really all over the place, Rebecca gets captured relatively early in the movie and most of the rest of the beginning is all about her being in W&P’s capture where she is put through a set of random imprisonments and tortures like carrying pots of dirt up a ladder, put in a straight jacket in a large freezer, and shoved down a pipe that gets smaller the deeper you go which is somehow the most effective punishment that still doesn’t get her to break. There’s also this mousy tech girl that seems to be a prisoner, but a prisoner with benefits because she knows how to fix the planes and tanks and whatnot so she’s kind of working for W&P, but also kind of a prisoner and the new second in command keeps trying to hit on her. Then after their escape there’s this odd bit of comedy where they find out that the little girl from the rebel house in the beginning actually survived and they have to sneak in/break in to Liquid Silver, this giant brothel/strip club where she is also some type of kind-of prisoner/forced sex laborer who gets freed from her first job before it goes over-the-line creepy. Then there’s the whole section with the Rippers who are mentioned from the very beginning as extremely dangerous mutants who can take down an entire W&P brigade without them getting to fire a single shot. And yet when they actually meet them, they are dopey looking kangaroo creatures wearing regular clothes with comedy trope personalities before it finally shifts into a semi-action-y battle where they invade the W&P headquarters. It’s really just all over the place.
The biggest high point in this movie is Lori Petty as Rebecca/Tank Girl, even though the tank is actually a pretty minor element in the movie. She wears a different, eccentric outfit in practically every scene, sometimes it even switches back and forth between two outfits in a single scene for some reason. She has a bizarre haircut that’s mostly shaved except for a few long strands around the outside which are often colored different colors throughout the course of the movie. She takes absolutely nothing seriously and will toss out a random quip as nearly every other sentence, but she does it with such energy and cheerfulness that it is completely endearing every single time. It was never laugh-out-loud funny in my opinion, but I found nearly all of it quite amusing. It’s also an interesting choice that this movie uses what I can only assume is actual art from the comic books as well as a few animated scenes in the same style as the comic for many of the scene transitions. Sometimes they are just flashes of different artwork of Tank Girl, and other times the animation and art are actually used to further the plot which I imagine was cheaper and better looking than trying to use the mostly practical effects for the tank and plane, though it did create a bit of a dissonant tone on occasion with the jarring transition to art & animation. In the end, I did enjoy it, but it’s not something that I can easily recommend to anyone. It’s not cohesive, it’s not that great of a sci-fi movie, it’s not funny enough for a flat out comedy, and it’s not bad enough for a B-movie, but it’s also anything but a bland, mediocre movie. It’s just Tank Girl. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
*Tank Girl poster design by Alex Kittle and it’s her birthday today!